Special Issue "ERP and EEG Markers of Brain Visual Attentional Processing"

A special issue of Brain Sciences (ISSN 2076-3425).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2019) | Viewed by 22114

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A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editor

Prof. Dr. Alberto Zani
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Psychology, General and Experimental Psychology Division, Vita Salute San Raffaele University, Via Olgettina 58-60, 20132 Milan, Italy
Interests: ERPs; EEG bands; visual attention; attentional neural networks; attentional sensory modulation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Brain Sciences is seeking submissions for a forthcoming Special Issue entitled “ERP and EEG Markers of Brain Visual Attentional Processing”.

Visual attention includes a multifaceted pool of cognitive and perceptual functions (dividing, switching, orienting, searching and sustaining) allowing privileged processing of relevant information and concurrent filtering of irrelevant inputs. This applies to both space and object processing and involves both the anterior and posterior attentional systems.

These functions are associated with a modulation of alpha, beta, theta and gamma EEG oscillations, and affect ERP components both at the earliest (C1-C2 or PN/80 levels) and later latencies (P1, N1, N2pc or P300 levels). These alterations result in beneficial cognitive and behavioral effects. However, the functions of EEG bands and ERP components, as well as the latency and brain locations at which attention affects these indicants, are still debated topics.

This Special Issue aims to contribute to this debate and to take a fresh look at how brain EEG and ERP waves help enable visual attention.

We invite investigators to contribute articles that will add precious insights into the neural mechanisms of visual attention. Studies describing these mechanisms in healthy individuals and psychiatric patients of different ages as compared with animal research are also welcomed.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

EEG and ERP waves and their neural generators (hemodynamic, MEG/neuroimaging or source reconstruction data). Possible themes include: Spatial attention, object-based attention to shapes, faces, scenes, gestures, actions, words, spatial frequency, orientation, color, and illusory contours.

Dr. Alberto Zani
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Brain Sciences is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • ERPs
  • EEG bands
  • Visual attentional processing
  • Brain attentional networks

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
From Correlational Signs to Markers. Current Trends in Neuroelectric Research on Visual Attentional Processing
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(6), 350; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10060350 - 06 Jun 2020
Viewed by 1154
Abstract
Traditionally, electroencephalographic (EEG) and event-related brain potentials (ERPs) research on visual attentional processing attempted to account for mental processes in conceptual terms without reference to the way in which they were physically realized by the anatomical structures and physiological processes of the human [...] Read more.
Traditionally, electroencephalographic (EEG) and event-related brain potentials (ERPs) research on visual attentional processing attempted to account for mental processes in conceptual terms without reference to the way in which they were physically realized by the anatomical structures and physiological processes of the human brain. The brain science level of analysis, in contrast, attempted to explain the brain as an information processing system and to explain mental events in terms of brain processes. Somehow overcoming the separation between the two abovementioned levels of analysis, the cognitive neuroscience level considered how information was represented and processed in the brain. Neurofunctional processing takes place in a fraction of a second. Hence, the very high time resolution and the reliable sensitivity of EEG and ERPs in detecting fast functional changes in brain activity provided advantages over hemodynamic imaging techniques such as positron emission tomography (PET) or functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), as well as over behavioral measures. However, volume conduction and lack of three-dimensionality limited applications of EEG and ERPs per se more than hemodynamic techniques for revealing locations in which brain processing occurs. These limits could only be overcome by subtraction methods for isolating attentional effects that might endure over time in EEG and may be riding even over several different ERP components, and by intracerebral single and distributed electric source analyses as well as the combining of these signals with high-spatial resolution hemodynamic signals (fMRI), both in healthy individuals and clinical patients. In my view, the articles of the Special Issue concerned with “ERP and EEG Markers of Brain Visual Attentional Processing” of the present journal Brain Sciences provide very good examples of all these levels of analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ERP and EEG Markers of Brain Visual Attentional Processing)

Research

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Article
Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Multiple Memory Systems During Category Learning
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(4), 224; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10040224 - 09 Apr 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1584
Abstract
The brain utilizes distinct neural mechanisms that ease the transition through different stages of learning. Furthermore, evidence from category learning has shown that dissociable memory systems are engaged, depending on the structure of a task. This can even hold true for tasks that [...] Read more.
The brain utilizes distinct neural mechanisms that ease the transition through different stages of learning. Furthermore, evidence from category learning has shown that dissociable memory systems are engaged, depending on the structure of a task. This can even hold true for tasks that are very similar to each other, which complicates the process of classifying brain activity as relating to changes that are associated with learning or reflecting the engagement of a memory system suited for the task. The primary goals of these studies were to characterize the mechanisms that are associated with category learning and understand the extent to which different memory systems are recruited within a single task. Two studies providing spatial and temporal distinctions between learning-related changes in the brain and category-dependent memory systems are presented. The results from these experiments support the notion that exemplar memorization, rule-based, and perceptual similarity-based categorization are flexibly recruited in order to optimize performance during a single task. We conclude that these three methods, along with the memory systems they rely on, aid in the development of expertise, but their engagement might depend on the level of familiarity with a category. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ERP and EEG Markers of Brain Visual Attentional Processing)
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Article
Electroencephalogram (EEG) Alpha Power as a Marker of Visuospatial Attention Orienting and Suppression in Normoxia and Hypoxia. An Exploratory Study
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(3), 140; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10030140 - 02 Mar 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2809
Abstract
While electroencephalogram (EEG) alpha desynchronization has been related to anticipatory orienting of visuospatial attention, an increase in alpha power has been associated to its inhibition. A separate line of findings indicated that alpha is affected by a deficient oxygenation of the brain or [...] Read more.
While electroencephalogram (EEG) alpha desynchronization has been related to anticipatory orienting of visuospatial attention, an increase in alpha power has been associated to its inhibition. A separate line of findings indicated that alpha is affected by a deficient oxygenation of the brain or hypoxia, although leaving unclear whether the latter increases or decreases alpha synchronization. Here, we carried out an exploratory study on these issues by monitoring attention alerting, orienting, and control networks functionality by means of EEG recorded both in normoxia and hypoxia in college students engaged in four attentional cue-target conditions induced by a redesigned Attention Network Test. Alpha power was computed through Fast Fourier Transform. Regardless of brain oxygenation condition, alpha desynchronization was the highest during exogenous, uncued orienting of spatial attention, the lowest during alerting but spatially unpredictable, cued exogenous orienting of attention, and of intermediate level during validly cued endogenous orienting of attention, no matter the motor response workload demanded by the latter, especially over the left hemisphere. Hypoxia induced an increase in alpha power over the right-sided occipital and parietal scalp areas independent of attention cueing and conflict conditions. All in all, these findings prove that attention orienting is undergirded by alpha desynchronization and that alpha right-sided synchronization in hypoxia might sub-serve either the effort to sustain attention over time or an overall suppression of attention networks functionality. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ERP and EEG Markers of Brain Visual Attentional Processing)
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Article
Evaluating Preschool Visual Attentional Selective-Set: Preliminary ERP Modeling and Simulation of Target Enhancement Homology
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(2), 124; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10020124 - 22 Feb 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2402
Abstract
We reanalyzed, modeled and simulated Event-Related Potential (ERP) data from 13 healthy children (Mean age = 5.12, Standard Deviation = 0.75) during a computerized visual sustained target detection task. Extending an ERP-based ACT–R (Adaptive Control of Thought–Rational) neurocognitive modeling approach, we tested whether [...] Read more.
We reanalyzed, modeled and simulated Event-Related Potential (ERP) data from 13 healthy children (Mean age = 5.12, Standard Deviation = 0.75) during a computerized visual sustained target detection task. Extending an ERP-based ACT–R (Adaptive Control of Thought–Rational) neurocognitive modeling approach, we tested whether visual sustained selective-set attention in preschool children involves the enhancement of neural response to targets, and it shows key adult-like features (neurofunctional homology). Blinded automatic peaks analysis was conducted on vincentized binned grand ERP averages. Time-course and distribution of scalp activity were detailed through topographic mapping and paths analysis. Reaction times and accuracy were also measured. Adult Magnetic Resonance Imaging-based mapping using ACT–R dipole source modeling and electric-field spiking simulation provided very good fit with the actual ERP data (R2 > 0.70). In most electrodes, between 50 and 400 ms, ERPs concurrent with target presentation were enhanced relative to distractor, without manual response confounds. Triangulation of peak analysis, ACT–R modeling and simulation for the entire ERP epochs up to the moment of manual response (~700 ms, on average) suggested converging evidence of distinct but interacting processes of enhancement and planning for response release/inhibition, respectively. The latter involved functions and structures consistent with adult ERP activity which might correspond to a large-scale network, implicating Dorsal and Ventral Attentional Networks, corticostriatal loops, and subcortical hubs connected to prefrontal cortex top-down working memory executive control. Although preliminary, the present approach suggests novel directions for further tests and falsifiable hypotheses on the origins and development of visual selective attention and their ERP correlates. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ERP and EEG Markers of Brain Visual Attentional Processing)
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Article
Behavioral and Electrophysiological Correlates of Performance Monitoring and Development in Children and Adolescents with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(2), 79; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10020079 - 02 Feb 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 1463
Abstract
The pathophysiology of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) involves deficits in performance monitoring and adaptive adjustments. Yet, the developmental trajectory and underlying neural correlates of performance monitoring deficits in youth with ADHD remain poorly understood. To address the gap, this study recruited 77 children and [...] Read more.
The pathophysiology of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) involves deficits in performance monitoring and adaptive adjustments. Yet, the developmental trajectory and underlying neural correlates of performance monitoring deficits in youth with ADHD remain poorly understood. To address the gap, this study recruited 77 children and adolescents with ADHD and 77 age- and gender-matched healthy controls (HC), ages 8–18 years, who performed an arrow flanker task during electroencephalogram recording. Compared to HC, participants with ADHD responded more slowly and showed larger reaction time variability (RTV) and reduced post-error slowing; they also exhibited reduced error-related negativity (ERN) and error positivity effects, and reduced N2 and P3 congruency effects. Age effects were observed across groups: with increasing age, participants responded faster, with less variability, and with increased post-error slowing. They also exhibited increased ERN effects and increased N2 and P3 congruency effects. Increased RTV and reduced P3 amplitude in incongruent trials were associated with increased ADHD Problems Scale scores on the Child Behavior Checklist across groups. The altered behavioral and ERP responses in ADHD are consistent with the pattern associated with younger age across groups. Further research with a longitudinal design may determine specific aspects of developmental alteration and deficits in ADHD during performance monitoring. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ERP and EEG Markers of Brain Visual Attentional Processing)
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Article
Early Attentional Modulation by Working Memory Training in Young Adult ADHD Patients during a Risky Decision-Making Task
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(1), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10010038 - 09 Jan 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2358
Abstract
Background: Working memory (WM) deficits and impaired decision making are among the characteristic symptoms of patients affected by attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The inattention associated with the disorder is likely to be due to functional deficits of the neural networks inhibiting irrelevant [...] Read more.
Background: Working memory (WM) deficits and impaired decision making are among the characteristic symptoms of patients affected by attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The inattention associated with the disorder is likely to be due to functional deficits of the neural networks inhibiting irrelevant sensory input. In the presence of unnecessary information, a good decisional process is impaired and ADHD patients tend to take risky decisions. This study is aimed to test the hypothesis that the level of difficulty of a WM training (WMT) is affecting the top-down modulation of the attentional processes in a probabilistic gambling task. Methods: Event-related potentials (ERP) triggered by the choice of the amount wagered in the gambling task were recorded, before and after WMT with a the dual n-back task, in young ADHD adults and matched controls. For each group of participants, randomly assigned individuals were requested to perform WMT with a fixed baseline level of difficulty. The remaining participants were trained with a performance-dependent adaptive n-level of difficulty. Results: We compared the ERP recordings before and after 20 days of WMT in each subgroup. The analysis was focused on the time windows with at least three recording sites showing differences before and after training, after Bonferroni correction ( p < 0.05 ). In ADHD, the P1 wave component was selectively affected at frontal sites and its shape was recovered close to controls’ only after adaptive training. In controls, the strongest contrast was observed at parietal level with a left hemispheric dominance at latencies near 900 ms, more after baseline than after adaptive training. Conclusion: Partial restoration of early selective attentional processes in ADHD patients might occur after WMT with a high cognitive load. Modified frontal sites’ activities might constitute a neural marker of this effect in a gambling task. In controls, conversely, an increase in late parietal negativity might rather be a marker of an increase in transfer effects to fluid intelligence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ERP and EEG Markers of Brain Visual Attentional Processing)
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Communication
Cortical Resonance to Visible and Invisible Visual Rhythms
Brain Sci. 2020, 10(1), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci10010037 - 09 Jan 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1802
Abstract
Humans are rather poor in judging the right speed of video scenes. For example, a soccer match may be sped up so as to last only 80 min without observers noticing it. However, both adults and children seem to have a systematic, though [...] Read more.
Humans are rather poor in judging the right speed of video scenes. For example, a soccer match may be sped up so as to last only 80 min without observers noticing it. However, both adults and children seem to have a systematic, though often biased, notion of what should be the right speed of a given video scene. We therefore explored cortical responsiveness to video speed manipulations in search of possible differences between explicit and implicit speed processing. We applied sinusoidal speed modulations to a video clip depicting a naturalistic scene as well as a traditional laboratory visual stimulus (random dot kinematogram, RDK), and measured both perceptual sensitivity and cortical responses (steady-state visual evoked potentials, SSVEPs) to speed modulations. In five observers, we found a clear perceptual sensitivity increase and a moderate SSVEP amplitude increase with increasing speed modulation strength. Cortical responses were also found with weak, undetected speed modulations. These preliminary findings suggest that the cortex responds globally to periodic video speed modulations, even when observers do not notice them. This entrainment mechanism may be the basis of automatic resonance to the rhythms of the external world. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ERP and EEG Markers of Brain Visual Attentional Processing)
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Article
Get Set or Get Distracted? Disentangling Content-Priming and Attention-Catching Effects of Background Lure Stimuli on Identifying Targets in Two Simultaneously Presented Series
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(12), 365; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9120365 - 11 Dec 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1245
Abstract
In order to study the changing relevance of stimulus features in time and space, we used a task with rapid serial presentation of two stimulus streams where two targets (“T1” and “T2”) had to be distinguished from background stimuli and where the difficult [...] Read more.
In order to study the changing relevance of stimulus features in time and space, we used a task with rapid serial presentation of two stimulus streams where two targets (“T1” and “T2”) had to be distinguished from background stimuli and where the difficult T2 distinction was impeded by background stimuli presented before T1 that resemble T2 (“lures”). Such lures might actually have dual characteristics: Their capturing attention might interfere with target identification, whereas their similarity to T2 might result in positive priming. To test this idea here, T2 was a blue digit among black letters, and lures resembled T2 either by alphanumeric category (black digits) or by salience (blue letters). Same-category lures were expected to prime T2 identification whereas salient lures would impede T2 identification. Results confirmed these predictions, yet the precise pattern of results did not fit our conceptual framework. To account for this pattern, we speculate that lures serve to confuse participants about the order of events, and the major factor distinguishing color lures and digit lures is their confusability with T2. Mechanisms of effects were additionally explored by measuring event-related EEG potentials. Consistent with the assumption that they attract more attention, color lures evoked larger N2pc than digit lures and affected the ensuing T1-evoked N2pc. T2-evoked N2pc was indistinguishably reduced by all kinds of preceding lures, though. Lure-evoked mesio-frontal negativity increased from first to third lures both with digit and color lures and, thereby, might have reflected expectancy for T1. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ERP and EEG Markers of Brain Visual Attentional Processing)
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Article
Electrophysiological Markers of Visuospatial Attention Recovery after Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(12), 343; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9120343 - 27 Nov 2019
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1386
Abstract
Objective: Attentional problems are amongst the most commonly reported complaints following mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), including difficulties orienting and disengaging attention, sustaining it over time, and dividing attentional resources across multiple simultaneous demands. The objective of this study was to track, using [...] Read more.
Objective: Attentional problems are amongst the most commonly reported complaints following mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), including difficulties orienting and disengaging attention, sustaining it over time, and dividing attentional resources across multiple simultaneous demands. The objective of this study was to track, using a single novel electrophysiological task, various components associated with the deployment of visuospatial selective attention. Methods: A paradigm was designed to evoke earlier visual evoked potentials (VEPs), as well as attention-related and visuocognitive ERPs. Data from 36 individuals with mTBI (19 subacute, 17 chronic) and 22 uninjured controls are presented. Postconcussion symptoms (PCS), anxiety (BAI), depression (BDI-II) and visual attention (TEA Map Search, DKEFS Trail Making Test) were also assessed. Results: Earlier VEPs (P1, N1), as well as processes related to visuospatial orientation (N2pc) and encoding in visual short-term memory (SPCN), appear comparable in mTBI and control participants. However, there appears to be a disruption in the spatiotemporal dynamics of attention (N2pc-Ptc, P2) in subacute mTBI, which recovers within six months. This is also reflected in altered neuropsychological performance (information processing speed, attentional shifting). Furthermore, orientation of attention (P3a) and working memory processes (P3b) are also affected and remain as such in the chronic post-mTBI period, in co-occurrence with persisting postconcussion symptomatology. Conclusions: This study adds original findings indicating that such a sensitive and rigorous ERP task implemented at diagnostic and follow-up levels could allow for the identification of subtle but complex brain activation and connectivity deficits that can occur following mTBI. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ERP and EEG Markers of Brain Visual Attentional Processing)
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Article
Left-Hemispheric Asymmetry for Object-Based Attention: an ERP Study
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(11), 315; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9110315 - 08 Nov 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1593
Abstract
It has been shown that selective attention enhances the activity in visual regions associated with stimulus processing. The left hemisphere seems to have a prominent role when non-spatial attention is directed towards specific stimulus features (e.g., color, spatial frequency). The present electrophysiological study [...] Read more.
It has been shown that selective attention enhances the activity in visual regions associated with stimulus processing. The left hemisphere seems to have a prominent role when non-spatial attention is directed towards specific stimulus features (e.g., color, spatial frequency). The present electrophysiological study investigated the time course and neural correlates of object-based attention, under the assumption of left-hemispheric asymmetry. Twenty-nine right-handed participants were presented with 3D graphic images representing the shapes of different object categories (wooden dummies, chairs, structures of cubes) which lacked detail. They were instructed to press a button in response to a target stimulus indicated at the beginning of each run. The perception of non-target stimuli elicited a larger anterior N2 component, which was likely associated with motor inhibition. Conversely, target selection resulted in an enhanced selection negativity (SN) response lateralized over the left occipito-temporal regions, followed by a larger centro-parietal P300 response. These potentials were interpreted as indexing attentional selection and categorization processes, respectively. The standardized weighted low-resolution electromagnetic tomography (swLORETA) source reconstruction showed the engagement of a fronto-temporo-limbic network underlying object-based visual attention. Overall, the SN scalp distribution and relative neural generators hinted at a left-hemispheric advantage for non-spatial object-based visual attention. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ERP and EEG Markers of Brain Visual Attentional Processing)
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Communication
More than Meets the Mind’s Eye? Preliminary Observations Hint at Heterogeneous Alpha Neuromarkers for Visual Attention
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(11), 307; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9110307 - 02 Nov 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1317
Abstract
With their salient power distribution and privileged timescale for cognition and behavior, brainwaves within the 10 Hz band are special in human waking electroencephalography (EEG). From the inception of electroencephalographic technology, the contribution of alpha rhythm to attention is well-known: Its amplitude increases [...] Read more.
With their salient power distribution and privileged timescale for cognition and behavior, brainwaves within the 10 Hz band are special in human waking electroencephalography (EEG). From the inception of electroencephalographic technology, the contribution of alpha rhythm to attention is well-known: Its amplitude increases when visual attention wanes or visual input is removed. However, alpha is not alone in the 10 Hz frequency band. A number of other 10 Hz neuromarkers have function and topography clearly distinct from alpha. In small pilot studies, an activity that we named xi was found over left centroparietal scalp regions when subjects held their attention to spatially peripheral locations while maintaining their gaze centrally (“looking from the corner of the eyes”). I outline several potential functions for xi as a putative neuromarker of covert attention distinct from alpha. I review methodological aids to test and validate their functional role. They emphasize high spectral resolution, sufficient spatial resolution to provide topographical separation, and an acute attention to dynamics that caters to neuromarkers’ transiency. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ERP and EEG Markers of Brain Visual Attentional Processing)
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Article
On the Relationship between P3 Latency and Mental Ability as a Function of Increasing Demands in a Selective Attention Task
Brain Sci. 2019, 9(2), 28; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci9020028 - 29 Jan 2019
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 2330
Abstract
The mental speed approach to individual differences in mental ability (MA) is based on the assumption of higher speed of information processing in individuals with higher than those with lower MA. Empirical support of this assumption has been inconsistent when speed was measured [...] Read more.
The mental speed approach to individual differences in mental ability (MA) is based on the assumption of higher speed of information processing in individuals with higher than those with lower MA. Empirical support of this assumption has been inconsistent when speed was measured by means of the P3 latency in the event-related potential (ERP). The present study investigated the association between MA and P3 latency as a function of task demands on selective attention. For this purpose, 20 men and 90 women performed on a standard continuous performance test (CPT1 condition) as well as on two further task conditions with lower (CPT0) and higher demands (CPT2) on selective attention. MA and P3 latency negatively correlated in the standard CPT, and this negative relationship even increased systematically from the CPT1 to the CPT2 condition but was absent in the CPT0 condition. The present results indicate that task demands on selective attention are decisive to observe the expected shorter P3 latency in individuals with higher compared to those with lower MA. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue ERP and EEG Markers of Brain Visual Attentional Processing)
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